THE USE OF INTERNET AND SOCIAL
MEDIA BY HEALTH CARE
CONSUMERS AND PROFESSIONALS
1. Describe the characteristics of online consumers.
2. Discuss the benefits and risks of social media.
3. Examine the implications of the internet and social media on
the health consumers.
4. Identify ethical issues related to the use of internet and social
5. Analyze the role of INS in the use of internet and social media.
Characteristics of Online Consumers
■ Patients suffering from chronic illnesses
■ People that care for sick family members
■ Patients that lack education regarding acute illnesses
■ People looking to connect with others going through the
■ Healthcare professionals
“While the use of social networks, including Facebook® andTwitter®, is relatively new in
healthcare, it represents an important opportunity for the e-communication effort in any
healthcare setting”(Weaver, Lindsay, & Gitelman, 2012).
Benefits of Social Media for Patients
■ Social media provides a means for people to communicate in more
ways than one, such as:
■ Consumers being able to share their experiences
■ Seeking information and opinions from one another
■ Being able to engage with peers and providers
■ Patients are more empowered
(Househ, Borycki, & Kushniruk, 2014, p. 54)
Benefits of Social Media for
■ Increasing knowledge
■ Doctor-patient communication
■ Communication with colleagues
(Antheunis,Tates, Nieboer, 2013)
Benefits of Social Media
■ “Facebook can be used for building identity, emotional support, logistical
support, and easy-to access disease management information” (Househ,
Borycki, & Kushniruk, 2014, p. 54).
■ “Since physicians are usually busy, they have limited time to read and review
traditional journal papers to keep up-to-date. However,Twitter’s availability on
mobile devices has enabled physicians to receive updated information very
quickly, and they are able to reviewTwitter updates at a time of their own
choosing or even during their work time”(Panahi, Watson, & Partridge, 2016,
Risks of Social Media for Patients
■ Personal information being leaked
■ Unreliable information on the internet
■ Lack of trust for provider due to little or no face to face
■ Lack of communication from the provider
Risks of Social Media for Professionals
■ No financial compensation for health care provided using
■ Legal concerns
■ Privacy concerns
■ Mishaps due to lack of knowledge in using social media
Implications of the Internet and social media
on health consumers.
■ “At present, very little is known about the type of information that is posted on social
media platforms (i.e. in terms of information quality and evidence to support the use
of that information)” (Househ, Borycki, & Kushniruk, 2014, p.56).
■ The internet and social media are great ways for consumers to be educated and
empowered. However there is no confirmation that all of the information is accurate
or evidence based.When there is no way to assure that the information given is
factual, patients may receive little or no benefit to manage their own health.
■ Patients may face the consequence of having their personal information leaked out
into the public.There is always a risk depending on how involved a consumer may be
when utilizing social media for health management purposes.
Ethical Issues Related to the use of Internet
and Social Media
■ “Ethics can be defined as a subjective standard of behavior guided by moral values, in sharp
contrast to law, which is an objective rule of conduct or action” (Polito, 2012, p. 38).
■ “The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) was enacted by Congress
in 1996” (Polito, 2012, p. 36).
■ “HIPAA seeks to balance protecting the privacy of patients' health information and assuring
that this information is available to those who need it to provide health care, payment for
care, and for other important purposes (Office for Civil Rights 2011)” (Polito, 2012, p. 36).
■ The use of the internet and social media has definitely reinforced the seriousness of HIPAA
and the consequences when violating it.
■ Violation of HIPAA without a doubt will terminate a health professional’s position.
■ A harmless interaction through social media can even result in a violation of HIPAA.
Analyze the Role of INS in the use of
Internet and Social Media
It is the role of the Informatics Nurse Specialist to:
■ Inform patients on how to utilize the internet and social media to receive substantial
■ Interact with consumers on the internet and social media
■ Put awareness out into the media regarding how to safely utilize the internet and
social media to benefit health management
■ Help health care professionals to safely integrate the use of social media and the
internet without the breach of HIPAA guidelines
■ Antheunis,M.Tates,K., Nieboer,T. (2013). Patients' and health professionals' use of social
media in healthcare: Motives, barriers and expectations . Original Research article. Patient
Education and Counseling, 92(3), 426.
■ Househ, M., Borycki, E. & Kushniruk, A. (2014). Empowering patients through social media:
The benefits and challenges. Health Informatics Journal, 20(1), 50-58.
■ Panahi, S.,Watson, J., & Partridge, H. (2016). Social media and physicians: Exploring the
benefits and challenges. Health Informatics Journal, 22(2), 99-112.
■ Polito, J. M. (2012). Ethical Considerations in Internet Use of Electronic Protected Health
Information. Neurodiagnostic Journal, 52(1), 34-41.
■ Weaver, B., Lindsay, B., & Gitelman (2012). CommunicationTechnology and Social Media:
Opportunities and Implications for Healthcare Systems